Over the Labor Day weekend, Seth Aaron Ator shot and killed seven people. He wounded more than 20 others in his senseless rampage. Police killed him during his attack. Ator was a man marked with mental illness. As they searched his home, police noted that this man was on a downward spiral, which apparently culminated when he was fired from his job the day he committed his heinous crime. As the anti-gun Left mobilized again, many questions remained.
How did Ator get a rifle? He failed a previous background check via mental health adjudication. Well, it seems Ator obtained his firearms from someone who might have been illegally manufacturing and selling guns without a license. Firearms reporter Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon had a good thread about this development, notably that it’s legal for a law-abiding citizen to build his own firearms for personal use/protection, but not with the intention of selling it to others. He went into some of the ATF statutes concerning what “in the business” means to the government concerning firearms sales, but added that regardless of the gray area—what this individual did as reported by the Journal concerning his transfer to Ator was “blatantly illegal”:
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has been trying to piece together how Seth Aaron Ator was able to purchase the AR-15-style rifle he used to kill seven people and wound 22 before police shot and killed him.
Ator, 36 years old, was prohibited under federal law from owning a firearm because a court had previously found him mentally unfit, law-enforcement officials previously said. He had tried to buy a gun in January 2014 but failed because a nationwide criminal-background-check system flagged the mental-health determination by a local court and prevented the purchase, according to the officials.
Authorities suspect the Lubbock man sold Ator the gun through a private sale. Such a sale allowed Ator to purchase a gun without going through a criminal-background check. Gun-control proponents have frequently complained that private sales are a hole in the background-check system that should be addressed.
It is unclear whether the man knew Ator was a prohibited person when selling him the rifle. If the gun dealer did in fact know that Ator was barred from buying guns, he could be charged with a federal crime. But authorities are also looking into whether the man was illegally selling guns.
While private gun sales are legal under federal law, it is a crime to be in the business of manufacturing or selling guns without a license. Law-enforcement officials suspect the man was buying various gun parts to build his own guns and then reselling them.
The WSJ is now reporting the Odessa shooter got his gun from somebody who was illegally manufacturing and selling them without a license. If true, that would make the idea that universal background checks could have prevented the sale less likely https://t.co/1Dk3iAd9dd— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 5, 2019
It is illegal to manufacture firearms with the intention of selling them to others without a license. Even if you're buying already serialized lowers and then assembling them with other parts, it would be illegal to do so if your intention is to sell the guns to others.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 5, 2019
That sounds like the exact situation the Wall Street Journal is describing here. pic.twitter.com/amuymIjtSU— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 5, 2019
If you are not a prohibited person (like a felon or domestic abuser), you can legally manufacture your own firearms for personal use. You can't do it with the intention of selling the gun to others, though. Here's more from the ATF: https://t.co/DE1X77jYms— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 5, 2019
There is some gray area in this section of the law. Only those "in the business" of manufacturing or selling guns need to obtain licenses. That's why gun sales by average people on the used market aren't subject to licensing requirements.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 5, 2019
So, it may be legal to assemble a gun from serialized parts and then later sell them at a loss. Clearly, though, it's illegal to manufacture guns with the intention of selling them to others for a profit. That seems to be what WSJ describes the seller in question as doing.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 5, 2019
Even with that potential gray area, what the guy in the WSJ story is accused of doing is blatantly illegal. I've reached out to the ATF for more details on what's going on with him. I'll let you know when I hear back.— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) September 5, 2019
As of now, federal law enforcement officials are searching the home of the man in question, but the fact remains that background checks worked. Ator was denied. He appears to have gone outside the law to obtain a gun. There’s nothing expanded background checks can do about that or any talking point that’s peddled by Democrats after these tragedies. There was no loophole and private sales aren’t the reason why we have mass shootings. The laws on the books prevented Ator, a prohibited person, from buying a gun. It looks like he, along with his alleged illegal gun maker, had to break the law in order from him to obtain a weapon.
Illegal private sale — criminal act NOT loophole! https://t.co/DwEtNpnPAE— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) September 5, 2019
So the murderer failed a background check because he was already adjudicated mentally unfit and went to the black market. The background check system WORKED. Universal Background Checks would have had zero affect. CRIMINAL ACTS are NOT loopholes. https://t.co/iky8ZKFI08— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) September 5, 2019